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My humble Canadian attempt

16 years ago

Hello all,

My second summer growing bananas and tropicals on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. We had a cool, rainy summer this year. The temps didn't get very high very often so I was surprised that I had as much growth as I did. I guess I'm just growing for foliage as I'm still learning and not even sure if I could get fruit in these parts. I've learned ALOT this year. Thanks to many of you for information and inspiration . (Boca Joe, JurassicDarryl, Johnnieb, etc.)

Here is a link that might be useful: Garden photos summer 07

Comments (11)

  • 16 years ago

    Sammy that looks FABulous! What a great job you have done - particularly considering our *weather challenges*. Please please let me come and see next year. :-))

    What are you going to do with your Ensete? Are you going to try to baby him/her thru the winter? Mine is in a pot rather than in the ground so I'm thinking to cut him/her down, bring the pot into the garage, cardboard the bottom (unheated garage) and pray. :-))

    Also where did you obtain the Amazonica -- I've found Coloc/Alo hard to find even in Nanaimo. But then again perhaps I wasn't in the right place at the right time. CT certainly has improved their general selection over the past couple of years for tropical type stuff.

    Three cheers -- GREAT job.

  • 16 years ago

    Hi Sammy,

    I'm originally from Vancouver, Washington, but live in Australia now. Your garden is could be here, in Far North Queensland, in the tropics. Amazing! I periodically try to grow stuff that is more suitable for the Pacific Northwest area, like lilacs, or dry climate herbs like rosemary, and they usually fall over from rot. Although my sage plant does look amazing this year.

    It will be really interesting to see if your plants can winter over. What will you be taking indoors?


  • 16 years ago

    Holly BC: I'm going to store my ensete over the winter. I'll try and leave a link to the instructions. I've done it with Basjoo last year but never ensete. Apparently they store quite well. Many people think I'm nuts digging all this stuff up but its really not that hard. I cut the leaves off save the newest one. Sink a shovel in around the base and the whole thing comes right out quite easily.

    I found the Amazonica at Superstore of all places. I was quite surprised to see it there. CanTire had several different types of Elephant ears. Green, Black Magic, and Illustrus. I found Alocasia Mac bulbs at Art Knapps. You definitely have to look around to find a lot of this stuff.

    I have some bigger plans for next year. Hopefully we'll have some better weather. I'm fairly new to gardening so maybe next year I'll feel more comfortable showing others my garden. :)

    Shellfnq: I'm pretty much going to try and keep everything. Some of it is potted and comes into my living room. The canna bulbs are stored in ziplock bags. I'm going to try and keep my Elephant ear bulbs wrapped in newspaper. I'm trying the Bucket of Brugs technique for the brugmansia. Bananas are going to be stored in my garage. The technique for storing bananas is really quite neat.

    Thanks for the kind words. I'll let you know how it goes.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Bananas to bed for the winter

  • 16 years ago

    Unless you have done it before with success, I wouldn't suggest ziplock bags for Canna rhizomes, they might rot out on you. I would suggest packing them in sawdust similar to Dahlia tubers, so that they air out abit. We don't have to do anything for cannas at this latitude, but they do seem sensitive to rotting out even here if kept too moist in the cold and wet seasons.

  • 16 years ago


    You don't have to dig up the Musa Basjoos as they are very winter hardy especially in your zone 8.

  • 16 years ago

    Sammy you need not be shy with moi! Your garden and tropical efforts are waaaay better than mine! This garden is huge and pretty much a mess. While I attempt many things its a very long slow process given the overgrowth. So paleese don't be shy about your wonderful efforts. :-)) It looks FAB!

    I really don't think you need dig your Basjoo - even if they are in pots (as are mine). At least I'm not planning to. I'm going to cut it down almost to ground (earth) level, then mulch the top of the pot, cardboard the entire outside of the pot and plastic bag most all. If you need cardboard, I have boatloads as I've saved most every box since we got here plus any from stuff that I've had delivered. I'm sure I could spare a little and DH will be most grateful if you'd like to take some. :-)))

    I've gardened many many years but never on this scale. Frankly it's kind of overwhelming and very slow going. Y'all may want to come see mine first and then you'll not be the least shy. LOL!! I could probably use your advice on my Trachys which are holding there own but surely not doing as well as I might have expected. I'm going to wrap the base of those pots also and bring them into my covered porch.

    My cannas I'm kinda confused how to handle. Not so much the storage but when to do . . . as they are still green and tall. I'm thinking I'll cut the tops in the next day or three, then dig the bulbs and lets them dry off in the garage. Once the dirt has dried, I'll brush off the loose dirt, then store them in rabbit cage sawdust stuff, in paper bags which I can mark with the cultivar. Does that make sense?

    The Ensete is a real dilemna. It got pretty big but it surely won't last outside. Do I cut it off at the base, then bring the pot into the garage and let it dry out? Maybe water a little if it gets really dry but not much until spring? It's too big for the house but the garage gets pretty cold.

    And then there is the Gunnera which got off to a bad start. It's in a barrel and didn't grow leaves large enough to really cover it as one might traditionally do. I'm thinking I'll just dig a whole and sink the whole barrel, then mulch over the top of it. Any other thots?

    You see I'm really equally if not more so a novice than you. I'd really appreciate any thots/advice you're willing to share.


  • 16 years ago

    I really enjoyed seeing your garden pics. Great tropical look.I'm in Nanaimo and I've left my basjoo outside for the winters. I started with two little ones and now have got them about 8-10 feet tall and lots of pups. I just bag up leaves and throw the bags around the bottom of the basjoos. I've been leaving the leaves on and then they will droop over and provide a bit more insulation. I've only lost one, and then several pups emerged from the corm. I have got cannas and colocasias to over winter also. I"ve had bad luck with them though. I lost all my bulbs from them last year and had to buy more this year. My cannas didn't really impress me that much this year with the cooler weather. I've done the bucket o brugs for several years and had great success. Just brought all my brugs in yesterday in fact. Next week I'll try and get the rest in.
    I enjoyed the couple of links you provided. I've seen those methods of bring in the bananas before.I'm lucky I have a small green house attached to my house. I bring in all my geraniums and they bloom all winter. I over winter my fuschias and begonias in there also.

  • 16 years ago

    wow Sam - just saw your photos- excellent job! They look fantastic!

    Keep up the good work

    Boca Joe

  • 16 years ago

    Holly, Cindy, Boca Joe, et al

    Thanks for the nice words.

    Trachys: Sounds like you're still having troubles keeping your Trachys looking their best Holly. I've really done very little to protect mine over the winters. I've kept them close to my house on a south facing wall and gently brushed the snow off of them when it piles up. That's it.

    Basjoos: I have to ask about leaving your Basjoo's outside? Do the stems last the winter or do they freeze to the ground? If so how fast do they come back in the spring? What kind of height do you get out of them in the summer. Cindy yours are about 8-10ft. How old are they?

    Cannas: I dug my bulbs awhile back. I know I could've left them out longer but I just have SO much stuff to do around here! I decided to wash my bulbs this year as I had many losses last year leaving the dirt on. I'm burying them in shallow trays filled with Sunshine mix (peat and perlite). It stays dry and fluffy. I'll be checking them regularly and will change if I notice any rotting. I've already tried them in ziplock bags for a couple weeks and they were way too damp. I hear it works for some people but I'm not going to risk it. (Thanks Bahia)

    Ensete: I'm chopping the leaves except the newest one. Digging them up and storing them in a heated shed (approx 10 degrees) Never done it with Ensete but the guys at tell me that they store very well. I'd be leary about leaving them somewhere that doesn't have any heat at all but I have no experience.

    Gunnera: I just cut my leaves and mulched heavily last year. Seemed to work well.

    Bucket-o-Brugs: What a cool idea. I have one going now. I kind of forgot about it until I noticed a funny smell coming out of the spare room. I went in to find a Brug bloom!! I love it.

    Bye for now. Good luck with the wintering of your plants!


  • 16 years ago

    This was the third summer for my bananas. I ordered two of them from tropic to tropics three years ago. Here's a picture of them with some brugs, and ee, and dahlias,
    Here's a pic of some of my brugs in my front yard,
    A pot on my deck

    My bananas the year earlier,

  • 16 years ago

    Sammy - thanks so much for all the info you shared. We'll see how things do over the winter. Kinda getting chilly these days - yes?

    I just saw an article in Fine Gardening that might interest you on overwintering. I'll put it in the link thing at the bottom FWIW to you.

    Merry Xmas

    Here is a link that might be useful: Overwintering Tropicals